Hand washing is the primary barrier to prevent transmission of enteric pathogens via cross-contamination from infected persons. Conventional hand washing involves the use of water, soap, and friction to remove dirt and microorganisms. The availability of hand sanitizing products for use when water and soap are unavailable has increased in recent years. The aim of this systematic review was to collate scientific information on the efficacy of hand sanitizers compared with washing hands with soap and water for the removal of foodborne pathogens from the hands of food handlers.
An extensive literature search was carried out using three electronic databases: Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed. Twenty-eight scientific publications were ultimately included in the review. Analysis of this literature revealed various limitations in the scientific information owing to the absence of a standardized protocol for evaluating the efficacy of hand products and variation in experimental conditions. However, despite conflicting results, scientific evidence seems to support the historical skepticism about the use of waterless hand sanitizers in food preparation settings.
Water and soap appear to be more effective than waterless products for removal of soil and microorganisms from hands. Alcohol-based products achieve rapid and effective inactivation of various bacteria, but their efficacy is generally lower against nonenveloped viruses. The presence of food debris significantly affects the microbial inactivation rate of hand sanitizers.
Efficacy of instant hand sanitizers against foodborne pathogens compared with hand washing with soap and water in food preparation settings: A systematic review
Journal of Food Protection®, Number 6, June 2016, pp. 896-1055, pp. 1040-1054(15)
Foddai, Antonio C. G.; Grant, Irene R.; Dean, Moira